BY DEAN ROBBINS
In 16th century France, the virginal Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane), is swept up in palace intrigue. Her fiancé (Toby Regbo) cares less for her than he does for France, nattering on about the political advantage of their union. An evil queen (Megan Follows) plots against her, while her ladies-in-waiting indulge in Elizabethan-style naughtiness. All the French characters worry about English plots, even though, puzzlingly, they all speak with English accents.
The new drama Reign (8 p.m. Thursday, CW) is basically Gossip Girl in doublets and puffy sleeves — a soap opera about beautiful young people and their transgressive behavior. But it has an advantage over Gossip Girl, in that transgressive behavior was much more dangerous in the 16th century than it is in our own permissive times.
Great Performances 40th Anniversary Celebration 9 p.m. Friday (PBS)
Audra McDonald, David Hyde Pierce and other guest stars testify that they watched Great Performances as kids and thought, “I’d like to be a performer, too.” No doubt a new generation of kids is watching the celebration tonight. I hope I’m around in 40 years to see what it inspires them to do.
Masters of Sex 9 p.m. Sunday (Showtime)
But so far, Masters of Sex has been disappointing. The acting is wooden, and Dr. Masters makes for a particularly unprepossessing hero. (For some reason, Sheen is directed to stand around, looking dazed most of the time.) The biggest disappointment is that the series isn’t sexy, despite strenuous efforts.
Hello Ladies 9:30 p.m. Sunday (HBO)
Merchant has impressive credits as a writer/producer of Ricky Gervais’ The Office and Extras. He was also responsible for the less-than-impressive Life’s Too Short. His comedy tends to be cold, cruel and cynical, and without the right context, it’s off-putting in the extreme. Here, Merchant’s character is an unappealing weasel who surrounds himself with even less appealing friends. Like the hotties in the bar, I find myself slowly edging away from him.
Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host 9:30 p.m. tuesday (TBS)